Peregrines on Wakefield Cathedral

Peregrines have been present on Wakefield Cathedral for several years but they bred for the first time in 2015, using a nestbox made at the University of Sheffield. An adult female and a male that was still in juvenile plumage arrived unexpectedly after the overwintering pair departed at the start of the season. Despite a late start, they raised three young successfully.

Two of the youngsters from the first brood.

Two of the youngsters from the first brood.

A couple of months after the youngsters fledged, the male moulted into his adult plumage. The ring on the right leg shows that it is the same bird. We’ve since discovered that he was ringed on 16 May 2014 at St George’s Church, Sheffield.

The male in his two set of plumage: juvenile & adult.

The male in his two set of plumage: juvenile & adult.

A new box installed in the autumn of 2015, and later fitted with a camera, has improved access to the box and has allowed us to observe the behaviour of the birds inside the box. In 2018, a second camera was installed overlooking the east parapet and has allowed us to observe the juvenile peregrines when they leave the nestbox.

Female Peregrine

Since 2016, the juvenile peregrines have been fitted with an orange colour Darvic ring on their left leg and a metal BTO ring on the right leg. The Darvic rings are readable through binoculars or telescopes, and we hope this will enable us to get feedback on the subsequent movement of the juveniles after fledging.

Male on the left.


42 thoughts on “Peregrines on Wakefield Cathedral

  1. My contact in Tudor House reported seeing an immature Peregrine on the cathedral spire Wednesday evening, eating what looked like a Pigeon. He has not seen the male bird for several days. Where does it go ? At Anglers this morning, Black T Godwit in front of hide with Greenshank over. Pete Smith had Swift and Yellow WagtaIL

  2. Seen the peregrine this morning around 7am flying around the top of the spire of Wakefield cathedral then landing back on it, first time i have seen it since May, also hobby hunting at Kerries resrve in Ossett been there over a week now chasing young sand martins as they emerge from sand banks and also hunting over the sewage works

  3. Hi
    I write a weekly Birdwatching article for the Yorkshire Post and recently featured the peregrine nest box on Wakefield Cathedral. I have been asked by Coun Elizabeth Nash of Leeds City Council if I can suggest suitable sites for peregrine nest boxes in Leeds. I have heard there is already one nest box in place in Leeds, could you put me in touch with the people concerned to see if they can help?
    Martin Robinson

  4. I work in a high building close to the cathedral and I often go to the roof to see these fabulous bird ive also seen then bath on a roof top and prey on pigeons where they leave the carcasses for me to clear away ill miss them in the winter months

  5. just seen peregrine take pigeon in mid air but drop it on the road at market street, then cheeky magpie came down to have a snack but cars chased it away
    an amazing site to see a peregrine take a pigeon on the wing in the middle of Wakefield

  6. I’m watching them both fly round the spire now, it’s midnight and they are both very active indeed, wonderful to watch them

  7. I’m just wondering if anyone else has been watching them recently, they both are spending so much time together, no one else has left a message for like a year now….. anyone with any views or news about them????

    • Reece, the birds are being watched a great deal and the number of Twitter followers continues to increase – it’s more than 1500 now. There are regular updates on Twitter and a group has just been started on Facebook. You are welcome to join the group. Both Twitter and Facebook draw comments. I expect to put more posts on this website soon, as the breeding season get going, and I expect that these will draw comments. We are hoping that the first egg will be laid later this week.

      • Hi Francis what is the name of the group that I need to type into face book so I can look at it? Also how do I access the camer to watch the most recent pictures or video in the box?

        • Reece, the Facebook group is Wakefield Peregrines. Requests to join the group can be done immediately or they might take longer if, for example, I’m busy with something else.

    • There are four eggs. They have been incubating for a little more than 2 weeks and I expect the first hatching to be around 2nd May, give or take a day or two.

    • The male has a BTO ring on his right leg, meaning that he would have been ringed as a youngster, in the nest. These rings carry information that can’t be read unless the bird is in the hand and this would not happen whilst it is alive. Therefore, we don’t know where the male came from. The female does not have any rings, so we have no idea where she came from. Peregrine means “wanderer” and adult birds can claim territories many miles from where they fledged, so these two could have come from nests either locally or a hundred or more miles away.

    • I should also have said that this pair has been resident at the cathedral since April of 2015. They live there throughout the year and are beginning their third breeding season in Wakefield.

  8. Thank you. Have last years three remaining chicks been seen anywhere? The new rings must help enormously with identification.

    • One of the three males – 3Z – was found dead beneath some overhead wires near Ripon in late September. A dead golden plover was on the ground nearby. The peregrine had obviously just caught a meal before colliding with the wires. There has not been any news of the remaining two. A juvenile peregrine with an orange ring was hanging around a nature reserve near York during the winter but peregrines from sites other than Wakefield are fitted with orange rings, so we need a sighting of any letters or numbers.

  9. I had a sighting of two birds flying around Morley Town Hall on Thurs 20 Apr from 1645 then left s at 1700. First bird, probable male had a gap in the rh primaries.
    The day after at 1430 an immature male was high on Morley Town Hall then flew to a nearby church steeple. He had an orange ring on the left leg but the chest feathers were obscuring the lettering.
    Maybe one or both these birds were young from the 2016 nest?
    No sightings of these birds on Sat or Sun in the afternoon.

  10. Jackdaws nest and breed behind the louvre windows in the cathedral spire. Have they taken any jackdaws or been seen being mobbed by jackdaws?

    • I think I have seen jackdaw remains only twice in several years. The peregrines generally leave the jackdaws alone, although they do get chased if the peregrines are wound up by an intruding peregrine. The female peregrine usually remains wound up for some time after dealing with an intruder and will then chase anything that moves. I believe that the cathedral staff would be quite happy to see the peregrines make life a bit less comfortable for the jackdaws because the jackdaws make quite a lot of mess during the breeding season. The only species that I have seen mobbing a peregrine is black-headed gull. A peregrine attacked a black-headed gull in the city centre. It did not catch the gull but was followed back to the spire by the gull’s mates. They made a lot of noise and circled the spire for some time.

  11. Francis – Where are you viewing from? Noticed yesterday that the shops opposite have flat roofs.

    • I usually view from the precinct, near Boots. last night, I got a good shot from the shelter of the doorway of the Yorkshire Bank. Another good spot is on The Springs, from there, with a telescope, you can get good pictures of the box from the front. It’s tempting to go for a bit of elevation by using a location such as the multi-storey car-park but I got ejected from there one day and was told to, “go do your birdwatching somewhere else.”

  12. Francis.
    I remember some years ago when probaly our nearest peregines nest was up the M62 on Saddleworth Moor.Just after the farm in the Middle of the motorway theres a quarry on the right hand was at this quarry in a crevice on the corner and not very high were a kestrels which had been there for years
    1 day the farmers son came home and said to his father,you should see the size of the kestrels this year dad,the peregrines had moved in.I used to go with my uncle and watch them.the RSPB were there
    24/7.The first wild peregrines i had ever seen i used to love going to that quarry

  13. Can’t get the video to play of the pedagrin chicks no more just goes blank ..any other way I can get it thanks ..

    • I am not a computer expert, so I can’t be a great help. However, it’s always trying “Refresh” when there has been a problem. If that doesn’t work, you will have to consult a computer technician. One other thing that I can do is to confirm that the streaming has been working throughout the day.

      Good luck.

  14. I checked the box at 1800 last night and two juvs were on the edge of the box exercising their wings, as all three were doing on Friday. At 0900 this morning only one juv was visible via the webcam so I assume that two have flown. Will they return to the box or are they on their own now?

    • They return to the box when they are able to fly back up to it. Parents take food to the box or to individual youngsters. The box gets used like a feeding post. As the youngsters become better flyers, they start to take food from the parents in mid-air. the Wakefield juveniles often use make use of the roofs of the tower blocks and the adults take food to them there. They will keep giving food to the youngsters until autumn but visits to the nestbox will become less frequent. Last year, one youngster was still visiting the box until the end of September.

  15. Hi all,

    We found a young injured bird at the back of Sainsbury’s supermarket on Monday 10th July
    We managed to capture it and took it to Morley Veterinary hospital for treatment

    I later got a call form Jean Thorpe (Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)
    She says it was a young female born this year and from the Cathedral – Wakefield
    Unfortunately it had to be put to sleep due to the injury – it had a fractured wing and leg

    • Sean, thank you for what you did. It sounds as though this bird has collided with a building. This seems to be the number one cause of death for our young peregrines. Ten have been fledged in the past three seasons and three have died following collisions with buildings. A fourth youngster died after colliding with overhead wires.

  16. Devastated to find a young peregrine at george street wakefield at about 09:05 this morning, next to a moorhen of all species, i can only imagine it had caught it,, dropped it and then had been fatally wounded retreiving its catch,,it has a ring with serial NoGR36995 and an orange ring on other leg it was still warm and can only have died a moment before i saw it in the road.

      • Do you realise that YouTube lets you scroll back several hours, using the bar below the picture? If you see a comment in the live chat about some action, you can scroll back to the time of the comment. Also, if you join the Wakefield Peregrines Facebook Group, you will be able to see some of the interesting clips that I post on there.

  17. Beautiful bird. So fierce. We have this bird in the Ural mountains and coastal areas of Russia.

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